NUS is concerned by the government’s announcement on two-year degree courses which could see tuition costs of over £14,000 per year. These proposals have so far not taken into consideration the impact on students, lecturers and the higher education system as a whole.
NUS Vice President (Higher Education) Sorana Vieru said:
"Whilst NUS welcomes more flexibility and choice for students, I am concerned. The government's two year degree proposals appear to be quickly pulled together and poorly thought through, seemingly to match a timeline that suits the passage of the HE Bill rather than the needs of students.
"While Jo Johnson states that students will pay less overall because they have fewer years' maintenance costs, it needs to be considered that two-year degrees introduce more intensive teaching and curtailed holidays. NUS Pound in your Pocket research shows that a large percentage of students work alongside their studies in order to support themselves, and already feel the pressure of juggling their studies and work. This is particularly common among students from low income backgrounds. It is unclear how the government expects these students to support themselves without having the time to work. If, as the government claims, three years of access will be condensed into two, should that not mean also condensing three years' worth of maintenance loans into two?
"Students from less privileged backgrounds also often make use of the time around their studying to undertake the kinds of work experience that give them a chance of gaining the industry connections that more privileged students take for granted.
"Jo Johnson claims these proposals are good for lifelong learning. I find this hard to believe, given that those who have already completed one degree have no access to maintenance or fee loans. This means that those wishing to retrain would still need to find over £10,000 a year in order to fund their fees alone.
"Overall, the government's current proposals need careful consideration and scrutiny, with students' views truly taken on board."
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